If Pun Pun was a restaurant in Singapore, it would hit the number one spot in my Top 10 Best Vegetarian Eateries list immediately, that is how highly I rate this place.  The Pun Pun brand of Chiang Mai restaurants (of which there are three in total) all started from philisophy and minimalist lifestyle of their founder Jon Jandai.  This Chiang Mai born gentleman abandoned the rat race, gave up the obsession with money and started his own self-sustainable farm in the north of Thailand (about a 90 minute ride from Chiang Mai city).  The Pun Pun restaurants followed from this and place a high emphasis on using fresh locally produced ingredients.  You are not going to find any processed food and mock meats here.  For this post, I will be featuring their Wat Suan Dok outlet – This temple is located 15-20 minutes outside of the main city.  This outlet is 100% vegetarian, but some dishes do contain animal products (they are stated clearly on the menu).  Onion and garlic are present here.

Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Wat Suan Dok Temple, Suthep Road, Chiang Mai
Contact: 084-3656581
Opening Hours: Daily 9.00am-4.00pm.  Closed Wednesday.

The menu at Pun Pun is large and full of variety (see the full menu here).  I originally reviewed Pun Pun a year ago for the first time, so I was excited to try some new dishes (along with my old favourites).  I kicked things off with the Thai Style Green Papaya Salad.  Like most Thai salads this has a balanced mixture of spice, sourness, sweetness and saltiness – However, the level of spice here may be too much for some.  I loved the crunchiness of the green papaya, and unlike the fresh produce in Singapore (most of which either taste of nothing or uncharacteristically sour), every ingredient in this salad actually had the flavour that it should have – Who would have thought it…

Price: 40B.     7/10

 

For those who remember my first post on Pun Pun, you will know that I adored their Salad Dok Mai – This is basically an edible flower salad, of which the flowers have been lightly deep fried.  There are countless ingredients inside this salad – Flowers, cucumber, barley, sweetcorn, kidney beans, cherry tomato, capsicum – You name, it’s in there.  The salad sauce (which is in a separate small bowl) is sweet and slightly tangy.  But the real star of the show is the deep fried flower, which are so light and just melt in the mouth.  Delicious!

Price: 70B.    10/10

 

Another dish you may remember from my last post is the Homemade Fermented Mushroom Sausage.  A year ago I was somewhat on the fence about whether I liked this dish or not – Well, it has taken me a year, but I’ve finally decided that I love this dish.  If you want to win my heart with food, sourness and umami are the key.  The level of umami in this dish is off the charts.  The texture is of shredded mushroom fibre which has been pressed together and left to ferment (the exact method of fermentation I am not sure).  The taste is deep and complex, and the best thing I can think of as a comparison is raw garlic – Yes I know that sounds awful, but you should really try this little snack.

Price: 60B.     9/10
 

If you’re ever in a Singaporean vegetarian restaurant, don’t order tom yum soup.  The tom yum soup in Singapore must be the worst I’ve ever tried, it is basically MSG and water.  Once you’ve tried a real tom yum, then these inferior versions will simply disgust you.  This Tom Yum Nam Con is a real tom yum.  The levels of flavour in this dish are vast and beautiful, and has an overall flavour of mild cheese (although no cheese is inside).  Throughout Thailand there are countless renditions of tom yum, this version contains coconut milk inside, unlike the more common clear tom yum soup.  The ingredients inside are just so fresh and flavourful that words fail to describe them.  Not only the vegetables, but the flavourings such as kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass are bursting with flavour.  Not old, dry and fibrous like what you find in overseas supermarkets.

Price: 50B.     10/10

 

It would be tough to pick a favourite dish from Pun Pun, but if you handcuffed me, gagged me and tortured me for days then I would ultimately have to stutter the word ‘mus-a-man’. Musaman Curry (also spelt massaman) was introduced into Thailand by Muslim immigrants, with the traditional version being flooded with oil.  The Pun Pun version thankfully is healthier and contains countless ingredients – I loved the cubes of homemade tofu and bamboo shoots the most.  The flavour of this peanut sauce curry was sublime.  Rich, thick and packed with flavour – An absolutely unbelievable achievement of a dish, which will likely make all your past culinary experiences seem like some practical joke.

Price: 60B.     10/10

Conclusion – My conclusion to this post is simple – Leave this page now, find a cheap flight and go to Chiang Mai immediately.  Chiang Mai is a great city overall, but even if this restaurant was in a concentration camp in North Korea, I would still be making regular visits there.  The food is an amazing eye-opening experience, which gives you Thai food at its very very best.  You owe it to yourself to visit Pun Pun once in your life.

Overall Rating
Food – 9/10
Ambiance- 9/10
Service – 9/10
Value – 10/10